Somehow we’re already done with May?!? I have a lot of art work to get done in the next two months. * sweats *
I actually enjoyed a whole bunch of things this month, so I have lots of recommendations. You may also notice that I recently figured out how to add videos to the blog…
MOVIES + TV
Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
After thoroughly enjoying Killing Eve and finding out that one of the creators, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is also the the creator and star of Fleabag, I decided to check it out. I LOVED IT. The show is about a woman (played by Waller-Bridge) dealing with all sorts of emotional issues involving sex, family, depression, guilt, and loneliness. She shares her thoughts directly with the camera, so we become her confidant as she copes with various adventures and dramas. It’s incredibly funny and also genuinely moving. At the end of the final episode (which was a perfect finale, IMO) I was literally laughing and crying at the same time. All of the actors are great and the fourth-wall breaking never feels like a gimmick - It’s actually part of the story. The whole show is only two seasons long, each made up of 6 30-minute episodes, so it’s very easy to binge. Definitely one of the best things I have seen in a while.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
While I didn’t love it as much as the first two installments, John Wick 3 is still a very entertaining action movie, with beautifully crafted fight scenes. Within the first 30 minutes, John has fights in a library, an antique knife shop, and a horse stable, all of which are great. Unfortunately after that, the excitement wanes a bit and the unending gun and sword fights started to feel a little repetitive. It all still looked amazing but I had trouble staying interested.
It’s worth noting that I watched the film as part of a triple-feature movie marathon and by hour 5 I was getting rather desensitized. It’s very possible that the action scenes wouldn’t feel as monotonous if you haven’t already watched 4 hours of the same thing right beforehand. Anyway, if you want a solid action film, with Keanu Reeves, gunfights, some battle-dogs, a manic dagger duel, and a very weird plot that dives a little too far into magical underworld bureaucracy lore, John Wick 3 is worth checking out.
Her Smell is a surreal, disorienting, and incredibly acted portrait of the downfall of a punk rock musician (played by Elisabeth Moss). The structure of the film, mixed with an unnerving score and an unpredictable manic main character, meant that I was basically on-edge for two hours. Yet still really enjoyed the film.
Barry is great; it’s a bizarre blend of comedy and very dark drama that somehow works. The show follows a hitman (Bill Hader) who discovers a passion for acting and tries to balance his life as a murderer-for-hire with his desire to attend theatre classes and be on stage. Hader is such a charming actor that you naturally root for him, which makes this show emotionally complicated and occasionally unpleasant because Barry does some really bad things. Luckily that darkness is balanced with outstanding comedy and sharp writing. Special accolades for Anthony Carrigan who steals every scene as NoHo Hank, a Chechen mobster and probably my favorite character, and Season 2, Episode 5 which is one of the funniest “plan goes wrong” scenarios I have ever scene.
Game of Thrones (HBO)
There are many things I could gripe about with Game of Thrones season 8 (and with the show in general) - it absolutely had problems and being watched by so many people means that everyone has heaps to say on the subject. But I wanted to mention it here in my faves blog because even with all of its issues, I really enjoyed the shared experience of watching something along with so many other people. I love big epic mythology stories and GoT has that in spades. Over the course of 8 seasons there were numerous episodes, characters, and narratives that I really liked and I think that is what is going to stick with me, more than all the things I wish they had done differently.
Devil May Cry 5
This game is utterly ridiculous, doesn’t always make sense, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. In Devil May Cry 5 you play as three different demon hunters using bonkers swords (one of which is somehow simultaneously a sword and a motorcycle?), rad flips, demon buddies, and oversized firearms to kill monsters and stop an evil dude from destroying the world. As you do. While I knew the basic Devil May Cry story, played a little bit of one the previous games (but couldn’t really get into it), and enjoyed Ninja Theory’s reboot (which had its own, mostly unrelated story), I was still a little rusty on the details and had to keep texting my friend for reminders about who did what in the earlier games. I’m also not the best at remembering how to do all the complicated button combos you need for special moves. But even without all the backstory and button skillz, I still had a lot of fun.
My Brother’s Husband, Volume 2 (Gengoroh Tagame)
My Brother’s Husband is a two volume manga that follows a Japanese father as he is forced to examine his biases and beliefs when his deceased brother’s Canadian husband comes for an extended visit. The story is sometimes sad but also really hopeful and genuinely made me cry at the end. Just sitting there crying on the couch. The art is beautiful and it is a wonderful set of books.
Heartstopper, Volume 1 (Alice Oseman)
A very sweet graphic novel about two high-school boys forming a friendship and falling in love. Alice Oseman’s illustration style is lovely, with a particular shout out for her amazingly expressive drawings of Nellie, a dog belonging to one of the main characters. Like, I don’t know If I have ever fallen in love with something as fast as I fell in love with this dog. Please see important examples below:
The whole comic is available online, or you can get a really nice collected print edition. I went with the latter and i’m definitely ordering volume 2.
A Prince on Paper (Alyssa Cole)
More Alyssa Cole! A Prince on Paper continues Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, which I have mentioned here before. These books are so much fun with great characters and chemistry. APoP contains a charming AF sibling-to-royalty (but not a prince himself), a really lovely non-binary character (whose coming out scene I re-read like four times), and a heroine that lacks world experience but never lacks self-worth or self-respect. I loved that.
Shadows You Left (Taylor Brooke & Jude Sierra)
A tattoo artist and a cage fighter fall in love and try to deal with a mountain of emotional baggage and fraught histories. This book has really lovely prose, plenty of drama, and a strong romance centered around healing and trust. Twas a good read.
All of my solo show pieces are drawn, frames and glass have been ordered, and it’s now time to actually begin construction... If you are interested in the behind-the-scenes process, check out my Patreon where I will be posting more details, photos, and video. I also completed a little X-Files piece this month for Gallery1988’s “The 90s” show.